Stylist and Author Naz Meknat on Her Journey from Escaping and Abusive Marriage to Creating a New Life in the US
Naz Meknat is a Los Angeles-based fashion stylist who has worked in the industry since the early 2000’s. She has styled celebrities including Sterling K. Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, and Tara Reid, among others. Long before her successful career in Hollywood, Naz was still living in her native country, Iran, trapped in an abusive relationship with her former husband. Naz was born in Tehran in the wake of one of the biggest political revolutions in history. Her journey from birth to adulthood was punctuated by chaos and hostility. In the following interview, Naz Meknat opens about her early life, how she was able to escape to the US, her career in Hollywood, and provides some solace for those who have faced similar struggles.
Our audience may be familiar with your work in Hollywood as a celebrity stylist, but there's much more to your life than your career. Can you briefly summarize the years of your life that your book covers, and how those events shaped your life today?
I Grew up in Tehran, Iran. As a very young child I witnessed one of the bloodiest political revolutions of all time and while the country was going through a raging war for eight years. Having to conform to the rules of an extremist Islamic government under the watchful eyes of the morality police plus the pressure of growing up with a strict father forced me in the arms of an abusive man. Learning how to survive it all and navigate life in chaos as a young girl made me the woman I am today.
What was your impetus for writing the book, “7000 Miles to Freedom”?
After hearing some of my stories from the past, a few of my friends and colleagues encouraged me to write my story, anyone I came across who had a little knowledge about my past was intrigued and wanted to know more. After the public bravery some of the women showed that started the ME TOO movement, I felt obligated to tell my own story and to be a voice for the voiceless. At one point, I, myself was victim who needed a hopeful story to give me the will to fight so I understand the importance of sharing your story, your struggles and the dark times and show those in these unimaginable situations there is always hope.
Were you ever afraid to share your story with the world?
I was Absolutely terrified to share my journey. I am a very private person. To share your whole life story and every intimate detail about your life experiences on such a public platform is not an easy task. However, every step of the way I had to remind myself this is bigger than me, and that my vulnerability might inspire a young girl in the same situation as I was, and give her some hope for a better life, to encourage her to seek help and to fight for what she deserves, and if I can reach just one young girl, trapped in a situation that feels like a life sentence, to give her some aspiration, this was all worth it.
What was your childhood like? Can you describe what it was like growing up in Iran at that specific moment in time?
I was a creative child who loved to roam around free, climb trees and play soccer on the street with the boys. I didn’t like to be confined. Growing up in a country with extreme Islamic rules and very little to No freedom for its citizens, especially women was suffocating. We lived in fear every day, not knowing if the enemies’ rockets are going to hit our neighborhood next, and if we would survive that, or are we going to survive the dictatorship government that had taken over for another day. The fear of imprisonment if we said the wrong thing or did something the religious police considered immoral, the terror was a part of our daily lives. However, as kids and later teenagers we did all we could to bring some sense of normalcy into our young lives.
What is the best advice you have for someone who is surviving an abusive living situation?
My advice is, ask for help. Don't suffer in silence. If I could get out of my unthinkable abusive situation with no resources, in a country where woman have absolutely no rights and are considered property of a man, you absolutely can get out of your abusive situation. There is always help, no matter where you are and how bad things seem if you only get the courage to ask. What is waiting for you on the other side cannot be worse than your current situation.
Did the process of writing your book help you heal in ways you didn't expect?
The writing process helped with my healing. Writing about my life and the horrific events that had happened, which I had not processed properly, forced me to deal with all the emotions and feelings. It brought up some sadness, anger, and resentment I had pushed down all these years. I never sought professional therapy so the writing process, having to put it down all on the paper and being alone with my own thoughts and feelings made me deal with them and heal not only my own inner child but also heal my relationship with people I care about and have a better understanding of my own strength and ability to overcome life’s challenges.
Switching gears now, how did you get into the fashion and celebrity styling industry?
I was always a creative person, as a kid I loved all things fashion, music, and film. Once I settled in California and found my place here, I decided to pursue my passion and go after my dreams. I went to school and studied Fashion and Visual Communications at "Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising” in downtown Los Angeles, got my degree and started building my business and clientele from scratch. After years of hard work and persistence, the love I had for both fashion and film opened some doors for me to become a Celebrity Stylist.
Finally, what is the most important message you hope readers take away from your book?
I want everyone man or woman, young or old, anyone who is faced with adversity to know once I asked for help, everything changed. I was able to escape from a devastating situation which seemed impossible to get out of and build a life I could only dream of at some point. If I can put an end to an abusive relationship, not only with my partner but also with the government that controlled every move we made, in a country that woman is looked at as second-class citizens with no rights and no resources, then you can dream of a better life and make it happen too. From the moment I decided to save my own life it was a long road to where I am today, but it all starts with realizing you only have one life and that you deserve better.